Smoking is an Addiction and a Habit.
Part 2 in 3-part series: As with any addiction, the first step is to admit smoking is a problem. The next step is making the decision to quit the habit. Here is the link to Part 1: 10 Ways to Reduce Smoke Exposure for a Healthy Baby.
Once you have decided to quit, make it real, set a date 2-4 weeks from now when you will completely quit the habit. You can continue smoking as usual till your quit date, or, you can slow down, smoking fewer each day, until your quit date. You decide what is best for you. Also decide whether you want to announce your intention to quit to others.
This article will give you the information you need, some tips and ideas for new habits that will make quitting the habit much easier.
Nicotine is the most highly addictive substance in tobacco smoke. As you quit the habit, you will probably go through some or all of the following symptoms. These symptoms will be most severe in the first 3 days, but don’t worry, they will get better over the next 3-4 weeks. Plus, we’ll talk below about options you can explore to help make them easier to handle.
- Increased appetite and the weight gain that can go with eating more.
- Depressed mood.
- Inability to sleep.
- Anxiety and irritability.
- Inability to concentrate.
After reading this list of symptoms your probably need a refresher on the dangers of tobacco smoking and why you want to quit the habit!
The main toxins in tobacco are:
- Hydrogen Cyanide.
These toxins affect every organ they come into contact with ,and, many of them cause cancer. This is true whether you are smoking yourself, or, whether you or your baby are inhaling someone else’s smoke.
Here is a short list of the effects of tobacco smoke on you and all who are exposed to it:
- Lung cancer.
- Mouth cancer.
- Cancers of the intestinal tract like the esophagus, stomach, pancreas and liver.
- Cancer of the kidney and the bladder.
- Chronic lung disease like emphysema.
- Heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Lower athletic ability.
- Tobacco smoke lowers the body’s immunity. Smokers are more likely to get infections like pneumonia.
- Gum disease and stained teeth.
- Acid reflux.
- Bad breath.
- Early skin wrinkles.
- It causes inflammation in all the tissues of the body which is why smokers generally don’t feel as healthy as people who don’t smoke even when they don’t have a specific disease.
How to Kick the Habit
If you are a parent and struggle with an addiction to cigarettes, or, you are looking for ways to help your partner here are some helpful tips:
To be most successful in quitting smoking you need to look at the process holistically:
Your attitude is tremendously important:
- Quitting is a moment-by-moment decision that you get to make. Don’t think of it as quitting ‘forever’. You are just making the decision not to light up the next cigarette or smoke the hookah. Thinking about it like this is much less stressful than doing it ‘for the rest of your life’ . It also makes the whole process more manageable.
- You will probably have setbacks, most people do, so be gentle with yourself.
- Pay attention to every success you have, even small ones and celebrate them. You might even want to make yourself an adult star chart. Give yourself a star for every cigarette you don’t smoke. This adds some humor into the process. When you collect a certain number of stars, give yourself a treat of something you really love ! When you are your own cheerleader, looking for your successes, rather than the critic who always looks for your ‘failures’, you are much more likely to succeed.
Because smoking is a habit that affects all aspects of your life, it is a really helpful to get as much support as you can as you quit the habit:
- You are not just deciding to quit smoking, you are changing habits that you have developed around smoking. You have had them for a while so it will take time and effort to change them. The more support systems you put in place the better.
- Support that helps you with withdrawal symptoms: medications, acupuncture, self hypnosis training.
- Social support from your friends and family to help you stop the old habits and reinforce the new ones.
- Mental and emotional support from individuals, groups or organizations with experience in helping others stop the smoking such as talk therapy or a support group.
- Behavioral support . Make a plan, in advance, of how you will deal with cravings. Write the plan down, including the new habits you are developing, in a place where you can see them easily.
Advice from Ex-Smokers
Following are the tips my patients told me they found most helpful as I helped them quit smoking:
- Get good support from your family and friends. Tell them you are quitting and brainstorm ways they can help you quit the habit.
- Have a system in place to make it quick and easy to deal with cravings when they happen: What are you going to do when you really really want to light up a cigarette?
There are different options for helping you or your partner quit the smoking habit:
Studies have shown that smokers have the greatest chance of success of beating the habit when they use the medications along with with some sort of behavior changing therapy.
Drug free ways:
These help you overcome cravings and make the behavior changes you need to successfully beat the habit:
Talk therapy to help you change your thoughts about smoking and create new habits.
1-800-QUIT-NOW is a valuable resource you can use to get follow up counseling and support if you live in the United States.
In this article I am going to go through medication options and in the next I will discuss quitting the smoking habit drug free.
To make sure you succeed, even if you are using medications, have other processes in place to help you quit.
Have a discussion with your doctor or smoking cessation specialist to make holistic, proactive plan of action.
There are 2 types of product available to help you quit:
These products help most people with the nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
- Nicotine replacement products(NRT).
- Non-nicotine products like Varencicline (Chantix or Champix) or Bupropion (Wellbutrin or Zyban).
Both these types of products can have side effects so be sure to talk to your doctor before and during the time you take them.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding and want to quit the smoking habit, consult your doctor about which medications are safe for you and your baby and to explore all the options available to help you quit the habit.
Make sure to ask all the questions you need, do some research on your own ( see resources below) and then decide what is best for you and your baby.
In general, Nicotine replacement products are most doctors choice to help pregnant women stop smoking. Like any medications , they may have side effects.
There is no information on the safety of Varenicline during pregnancy so it is not used. Most doctors use Bupropion in pregnant moms starting after the second trimester of pregnancy.
Nursing moms are usually prescribed NRT medications. On occasion Bupropion is used, but, there is not much information available on it’s safety in breastfeeding moms.
Nicotine replacement products: NRTs
These are the nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, sprays or inhalers.Using them gets a small amount of Nicotine into your blood and decrease the cravings.
The most common side effects of NRT :
- Skin or mouth irritation( depending on whether you’re using the patch or the gum/lozenge).
- Heart burn.
- The patch can give you vivid dreams.
This medication blocks the pleasant effects Nicotine has on your brain, so you smoke but don’t feel any pleasure from it.
Varenicline may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away with time:
- bad taste in your mouth
- increased or decreased appetite
- trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- unusual dreams or nightmares
Bupropion is the other antidepressant used to help with quitting the smoking habit. Its side effects are:
- anxiety, excitement
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- dry mouth
- stomach pain
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- excessive sweating
- ringing in the ears
- changes in your sense of taste
- frequent urination
- sore throat
The following side effects of either medicine are serious and if you have them go to the emergency room immediately:
- hallucinating (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
- irrational fears
- muscle or joint pain
- rapid, pounding, or irregular heartbeatIf you have any of the following side effects Varencicline or Bupropion stop the medicine and go the ER immediately
- swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, gums, eyes, neck, hands, arms, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- difficulty swallowing or breathing
- swollen, red, peeling, or blistering skin
- blisters in the mouth
- pain, squeezing, or pressure in the chest
- pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- difficulty in moving your arms or legs
- shortness of breath
- nausea, vomiting, or light-headedness
- slow or difficult speech
- sudden weakness or numbness of an arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- calf pain while walking
- suicidal thoughts or actions;
- new or worsening depression
- anxiety, or panic attacks
- Psycological side effects such as :
- agitation; restlessness;
- angry or violent behavior
- abnormal thoughts or sensations
- hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
- feeling that people are against you
- feeling confused
- sudden or unusual changes in behavior, thinking, or mood.
My next blog about quitting the habit of smoking will be on the how to quit without drugs In the meantime. I would love to hear your success stories or challenges with quitting. Please post them in the comment section and share this post with anyone you think may need it.
To your holistic health,